DR. JACKIE SUTERA’S TIPS FOR GREAT FOOT HEALTH
Dr. Jackie is a doctor of podiatric medicine specializing in the prevention and treatment of foot pathology. She is a proud spokesperson for the American Podiatric Medical Association. As one of NYC’s premier podiatrists, she is a caring, conscientious and personable doctor who prides herself on being holistic in her approach to foot care. Where other doctors treat feet only locally, she has a unique gift of being able to link some foot problems to other underlying conditions taking place in the body.
We enlisted Dr. Jackie’s help in answering some of your most pressing foot health questions!
The most commonly asked question for Dr. Jackie pertained to finding an effective treatment for plantar fasciitis. Here is what she recommends:
- Massage the heel area and arch of the foot.
- Wear supportive, cushioned shoes for plantar fasciitis.
- Add orthotic insoles to unsupportive shoes to help support the arch.
- Ice the feet and legs and do calf stretches.
- Replace old, worn-out shoes.
- Avoid “bad shoes” (i.e., flat flip flops, high heels, thin ballerina flats).
- If none of these treatments help, see a podiatrist for a full evaluation.
Now, on to some of your more specific foot health issues:
Susan S.: I have plantar fasciitis and a heel spur. Is it possible to wear down the spur by rolling it on a dowel or foot roller, or can I at least keep it from growing?
Dr. Sutera: No, it is not possible to wear down the spur, and in fact, this may aggravate it further. Instead, massage the heel area and arch of the foot, wear supportive shoes that are cushioned, ice the affected area and do calf stretches. Usually the spur itself is not causing the pain– the pain is caused by inflammation to the plantar fascia, or the connective tissue that bridges the heel to the toes.
Jerri C.: I’ve had Rheumatoid Arthritis for 25 years. My left foot is turned to the left. I have a bunion on that foot, four hammer toes, and plantar fasciitis. I can never find a comfortable shoe. Can you help me?
Dr. Sutera: In later stages of RA, “lateral deviation” of the toes and bunions is common. Look for shoes with a deep, wide, square toe box. There is also the option of custom shoes that may accommodate your feet better, if you’re unable to find a suitable option at retail.
Gina H.: Lately I have been having pain in the joints of my 2nd and 3rd toes on my left foot. I have a bunion on that foot and I feel like that may be pushing the toes. Could it be arthritis? The bunion doesn’t bother me but this stiffness causes me to limp sometimes. I am a walker so it is very frustrating! I am worried I may be headed for surgery.
Dr. Sutera: Your bunion may be pushing on the toes. Bunions also cause the weight to be shifted to the 2nd and 3rd metatarsals, causing even more pressure. I would see your podiatrist and have X-rays taken. Not only could you have arthritis, but you may also be developing stress fractures on the other metatarsals, which can cause pain and limping. Surgery can usually be avoided but it is important to be diagnosed and treated properly—and as early as possible.
Ellen O.: I’m recovering from a broken ankle. What shoes do you recommend for 6-8 weeks post-surgery?
Dr. Sutera: After surgery, it is important to be in a supportive, accommodating shoe that is comfortable and stable. I would consult your surgeon for recommendations and ask if sneakers with support are appropriate at this time. Your doctor may want you to wear a brace, ankle support, etc. for a while before you are ready to go back to your regular shoes.
Cathy D.: I have an ankle fusion because of a 20-year-old injury. I’m getting arthritis in my tarsal/metatarsal joint and have be treated for Morton’s Neuroma. Wearing closed-in shoes makes the nerve pain worst. Vionic orthotic sandals feel best but can’t wear them all the time.
Dr. Sutera: Try Vionic Tourney sneakers (shown upper right). These have a soft fabric top with the Vionic insole that you love. Also try massaging the area where the neuromas live, which is in between the metatarsals. Also try stretching the metatarsals apart. Do this after a warm shower with oil or massage cream, followed by ice for 15 minutes.
Penny B.: I been having “charley horses” and cramps in my feet for the past 6 months. I usually end up getting up between 5-15 times a night, as the pain is so severe. I have tried everything! I called my doctor and the nurse told me there is nothing they can do.
Dr. Sutera: Some people get relief from cramps by eating bananas, which have potassium, and drinking tonic water. Also, try nightly self-massage after a warm foot soak or bath/shower, followed by ice. The massage helps to release acid build-up in muscles. See a podiatrist to have your feet evaluated to check for any biomechanical reasons you may be experiencing this.
Colleen Y.: Which of Vionic’s styles would be best to help with tendonitis in the ankle?
Dr. Sutera: I would stick with their supportive flats and loafers, which have the Orthaheel Technology built in. Avoid the elevated styles such as the wedges and heels until your tendonitis has improved.
Kimberly S.: What shoes are best for walking on concrete? I live in NY and my feet are constantly in pain.
Dr. Sutera: Look for cushioning, arch support and shock absorption when walking the streets of NYC. Try the Vionic sneaker line; these are great for pavement!
Julie H.: My husband has very high arches. He’s on his feet all day and they hurt. Will these shoes help him?
Dr. Sutera: He should look for orthopedic shoes for men that offer cushioning, arch support and shock absorption. Vionic offers Orthaheel Technology with an arched insole built right into each shoe. These shoes are designed for people with foot sensitivities and were designed by a podiatrist.
Tricia D.: What can be done for hallux limitus/rigidus? I was diagnosed using an X-ray a few years ago and told that fusion of the joint is the typical procedure. At times, the joint throbs with pain. Most shoes cut right across the joint so I have to be mindful of the styles I buy.
Dr. Sutera: There are custom orthotics that can limit the motion in the great toe joint. Taping the toe joint to limit the motion also can help. See a podiatrist for more treatment options.
Shelley H.: I keep my plantar fasciitis at bay by using custom orthotics and good shoes. Occasionally I have a flare-up. When I do, I also get terrible hip pain on the opposite side. Why is this and how can I prevent that as well?
Dr. Sutera: It’s possible that you have one leg that is slightly longer than the other, or you may have an underlying back issue. Have this ruled out by a doctor. Your orthotics can be modified to add in a slight heel lift if this is the case. In addition, you should massage, stretch and ice your feed and heels. Stretch your hip flexors and massage your IT band.
Stay tuned for more tips and advice from Dr. Jackie over the coming weeks!